Review: TAMARIE'S TEXAS TOAST is Delicious at Catastrophic Theatre

An original musical comedy that is as funny as Texas is big!

By: Jun. 30, 2024
Review: TAMARIE'S TEXAS TOAST is Delicious at Catastrophic Theatre
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Summer is officially here, which can only mean one thing… a new Tamarie Cooper show is playing at the MATCH facility! I am such a fanboy! She is the undisputed QUEEN OF SUMMER in Houston’s Theatre scene, and you are just not a “hip kid” unless you are there. TAMARIE’S TEXAS TOAST represents her 28th musical rumination on all things Tamarie, and this time, she is taking on “The stars at night are big and bright!” (insert claps here)


Yep, y’all! This is a salute and send-up of Texas in equal doses of admiration and decimation. It’s unexpected because let’s face it y’all… Texas, as of late, can be real scary. This subject may be more triggering than anything in the CATASTROPHIC THEATRE’S recent CLEANSED production, which is saying something. The politics, recent abortion restrictions, border troubles, anti-transgender legislation,  and culture wars of this state seem to run counter to the diverse mission statement of the CATASTROPHIC. Still, maybe our pain is what makes it funny. Sometimes you just gotta laugh at it all, and TAMARIE’S TEXAS TOAST is willing to offer that to you. And don’t be surprised if you end up with some food in your hands before the night is over (you have been warned!). At the very least, you'll want to hit up a drive-thru after the show. 

Every year, I am amazed at how Tamarie Cooper’s shows feel different yet the same. She creates these original musical revues with co-creator Patrick Reynolds, and they have some tropes that emerge but also seem to highlight something different every year. I would say this time out, I felt the strength of the ensemble in TEXAS TOAST. Usually, I can point to a person or a bit of solo work that stands out, but in this production, it feels like a group effort, and everyone comes to play. This company is just really strong at putting on funny-as-hell musical sketch comedies. It’s as if SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE were written by Kander and Ebb. 

But there were definitely standouts, which included (minor spoilers ahead): 

I squealed with delight at the trio of Texas-sized roaches played to great effect by Clarity Welch, Scott Lupton, and Julia Oppenheim. Scott gets an ingenious monologue with a good payoff, but all three showed grace and then scared the crap out of everybody. Be careful if you sit stage left, pretty sure Clarity whacked some folks upside the head with her multiple roach legs. This theater troop really needs to look into waivers against possible bodily harm.  

Walt Zipprian becomes Jesus and The Republic of Texas, both the kind of tour de force portrayals we expect from this Houston artist and cultural icon. He deserves a Tony simply for making the Republic so damn believable, so layered. But my nightmare fuel will be his “brave little toaster” Halloween outfit with which he opens and closes the show. Pretty sure I will wake up screaming, picturing that late at night. When he offered me bread, I almost had a panic attack. It was as much about the carbs as this seven-foot-tall toast monster grinning at me. 

Sara Jo Dunstan embodies a gender-bending Texas that is mind-blowing. She is the man! She spins out a clever treatise on macho posturing that will be the subject of thesis papers. 

Bryan Kaplun as Mexico is another signature performance by one of Houston’s best comedic actors. He has depth, such skill, and a sultry delivery. He is the Latin daddy of your dreams. When he teams up with Clarity Welch to offer up Tejano music, it’s pure majesty! They both got the biggest laughs out of me of the night. 

John Dunn as a Buc-ee’s beaver AND the embodiment of America? I mean, it’s typecasting as usual, and I hate that they keep giving him roles he was born to play, but there you are. You will find no other gas station mascot that comes close to the pathos he offers here. 

Juan Sebastian Cruz and Dillon Dewitt do a “salute to Texas rap” that will have you chanting HIP HOP HOORAY! 

Kyle Sturdivant steals any bit he appears in; he truly is unstoppable. At one point in TEXAS TOAST, we get an indication that there may be a solo Kyle offering someday, and I am here for it. He makes an alluring homecoming queen, and when he partners up with Rebecca Randall to do a gospel number about a popular fast-food chain? It’s the climax of the night! These two spin out one of the catchiest ditties of the evening. And they surprisingly capture the single greatest thing about Texas, please email me if you think I am wrong so I can scold you. 

But who is magic, pure and unfiltered? Tamarie Cooper. Somehow, she carries these shows year after year, and it’s amazing to witness her command an audience simply by being herself and letting us all take a peek inside that wonderfully warped brain. She writes these damn things with Patrick Reynolds, pairs up with musicians to develop lyrics, directs the piece, and choreographs the musical numbers (including a show-stopping tap routine this year!). And she stars in it. This is not a triple threat; it’s a woman who is a force of nature. And she slyly folds in the punk rock roots of CATASTROPHIC when they were called something else at the Axiom. She has created one of the best things about living in Houston, and it is getting to see this kind of foolishness annually. 

Technically, things are great as usual. Ryan McGettigan’s neon-tinged Texas-sized set is amaze-balls. Tim Thomson’s video design is as funny as the actors, and Shawn St. John’s sound work is on par with it the whole time. It’s a whole lotta bang for your buck from a “pay what you can” theater. 

This show is a joy every year and something I always look forward to. Tamarie Cooper is simply a Houston theater scene treasure, and I hope she is still doing these savagely funny musical comedies thirty years from now. She’s surrounded by awesome talent, a slick technical crew, and catering from a certain fast-food chain. What is not to love? Just go see it; it’s a summer tradition. 

TAMARIE’S TEXAS TOAST runs through August 3rd at the MATCH, and all tickets are general admission and pay what you can. Fridays are labeled FREE BEER FRIDAYS, and Sundays are matinee performances. The MATCH is easy to park around and has many options for food and drinks nearby.  

Photo taken by Anthony Rathbun




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